Importance of Making Backups
The importance of making backups cannot be
stressed strongly enough. As a private IT consultant I am often asked
to recover lost data from dead computers or failed hard-drives.
Sometimes I am successful and sometimes the data is gone forever.
There are many ways for data to be lost.
Hard-drives are a mechanical devices and therefore will eventually fail. Laptops can be stolen. Files can be accidentally
deleted. A computer virus could reformat your system. A fire or
flood could destroy
your office. A disgruntled employee could ‘accidentally’ delete data. The
list of potential data disasters is endless and lost data can
lead to great hardships trying to recover or recreate the information.
How would you or your business cope if all of your records were suddenly
lost? Would you be able to stay in business?
Here is a real life example: One of my engineering
clients had a computer that contained over 14 years worth of accumulated
AutoCAD drawings and was NOT backed up. It was a disaster waiting to
happen. The hard-drive began to make terrible noise (it literally
sounded like a jackhammer) and the Windows
operating system would no longer boot. The owner feared that 14 years
of work would be gone forever. Luckily for him, I was able to retrieve the
data using a sophisticated data recovery application. This person came
very close to losing countless hours of work and the CAD drawings
for dozens of his clients. He was extremely lucky. A loss of this magnitude
could have potentially destroyed his Engineering consulting business.
After the experience he has learned to make backups on a regular basis. Unfortunately this type of
problem occurs quite often and most of us learn this particular lesson the
My favorite backup strategy involves a
combination of different backup methods. Typically, in a network
environment I recommend some sort of tape backup system based on the amount
of data to be backed up. When possible I recommend a full backup every weeknight. Ideally, I like to use 31 tapes so
there is one for each day of the month. Using this numbering system makes
it very easy to locate a file that was deleted 2-3 weeks back. Some of my
clients also like to keep a permanent full backup monthly or yearly as a
matter of permanent record. Quite often, clients will keep the tapes in a
fireproof safe or at an offsite location. In addition to the tape backups I
like to use online backups. A Network Attached Storage device (NAS) is
attached to the network just like any other server. This device typically
contains anywhere from a half terabyte and beyond of RAID-5 fault tolerant
storage. If the client has a lot of data, I configure the backup
software to do incremental backups every weeknight and I perform a full
backup on the weekend.
This method provides a backup to the backup in the event the tape system has
an issue. Likewise the size of the NAS is so great, that we can typically
get multiple generations of full backups on one NAS device. If a file ever needs to be
restored, it is pulled from the NAS device rather than the tape. These
methods may seem redundant to some; but that’s the whole idea of a backup!
The goal is to NEVER lose any data.
In conclusion, we can see that backups are
vital to every computer system whether it be a home system or a business.
If you think backups are unimportant, think again. You need to ask yourself
the following questions. If my computers hard-drive died, what information
would I lose? Could I recreate the information easily?
What would it cost me to recover the data? The data stored on
your computer is more important than many people realize!
PC Guide Website,
Backups and Disaster Recovery
PC Guide Website,
Backup methods, Devices and Media
PC Guide Website,
Full, Selective and Incremental Backups